Understanding both sides of the Buy/Sell Process

It would be nice if you could google an accurate PCB Assembly price. However, board specifications and manufacturing requirements differ, not to mention the volatile market conditions of COTS. Many self-service quote modules currently used on websites do a decent job on pricing the bare boards, however they fall short when pricing Turnkey assemblies. Eventually, the gaps between what was quoted online and the actual PCBA manufacturing cost surface. This ultimately happens after the review of your Gerber files and Bill of Material. At this point you have invested a lot of time with less than a favorable result. What’s worse is that you may have already plugged these estimates into your product development plan requiring you to back track.

We believe the fit between two companies is the basis of a success relationship. Needs and processes are not always in alignment between customers and suppliers. Unfortunately, these are not always uncovered until after a project gets underway. This is not the best time to figure this out. Making sure the OEM and the Contract Manufacturer are on the same page before embarking in the quote process is the start of a transparent relationship and ultimately saves time. Understanding the process from both the buyer and seller perspective up front, will make for a successful relationship that’s a win-win with long term success.

Highlighted below are the items Altek discusses when working with a prospective customer. Not only are these important conversations for Altek to have with its customers, but important points to consider when evaluation any Contract Manufacturer. Getting this information on the table helps determine the customer/supplier fit before proceeding with the quote process.


Valuable information to share:

• Product Life (new development, prototype only, full production, EOL)

• Overall volume, shipment/delivery needs, is Kanban part of the long-term requirement?

•Are you looking for full turnkey, consignment, or a partial consignment partner?

• Is lowest price always the deciding factor?

• What quality acceptance metrics are you receiving today? Where do you want to be?

• What are the on-time delivery metrics from your current supplier? Does this meet your needs?

• What type of Engineering support are you currently receiving, and do you need more?

• Do you need DFM support for new product designs?

• How important is the physical distance from your Contract Manufacturer to your facility?

• Are you looking for an additional supplier or replacing a current one?

• What “voids” do you need filled?

• Is this part of reshoring your business to secure your supply chain?

Information to ask of a prospective supplier:

• What are the most valuable things your company brings to the table?

• Request references and check them.

• Ask for the suppliers 12-month rolling average for On-Time-Delivery and Quality Acceptance rates.

• Check the manufacturers financial stability.

• What is your Business Continuity – Disaster Recovery plan?

• What is your supply chain management process?

• What certifications does your company have?

• Share your companies QMS process/program.

• How long have your key customers been with you?

These items are important pieces of the Total cost of ownership evaluation process of a new supplier. This information exchange process works, and it will allow you to eliminate sub-standard suppliers before starting the bid cycle. None of us have time to waste as referenced by Benjamin Franklin quote…“Remember time is money”!

You can read more about Total Cost of Acquisition at the link below:

Terry Weiner, Senior Consultant, California Manufacturing Technology Consulting (CMTC) states that – “Traditional costing methods such as Purchase Price Variance (PPV) typically miss between 20 to 40 percent of the actual costs of acquisition.”

How to Validate your Vision with Customer Satisfaction Results

Altek is committed to meeting our customers’ needs.  One way we do this is by  requesting constructive feedback to improve our processes and procedures.  We check in twice a year with a blind survey, and here are some results of the most recent survey that we would like to share:

When asked, “Do I/We view Altek as a valuable supplier?” The responses from our customers were extremely positive.  The telling part of the question was… “Please tell us why.”

We are humbled by our customers’ responses.

  • Very consistent and are sensitive to our needs. Communications are timely and transparent. Also, willing to work with us to resolve issues even if it means more work for them.
  • Product & delivery is very good. Customer service is always helpful.
  • Excellent customer service and excellent products.
  • I have access to several people, including cell phones, which makes it easy to speak with people. Altek has provided technical support for our designs.
  • Altek is always willing to go the extra mile to satisfy my requirements.
  • Altek provides great customer service.
  • I feel we succeed together as we work as partners.
  • Dependable. On time delivery.
  • Top notch Manufacturer. Always on top of things. A pleasure to work with.
  • These responses provide very important information.  They tell us that the manufacturing services Altek is providing to our customers is in line with our vision:

    “To be a thriving and profitable enterprise,
    based in Connecticut, with a highly skilled and flexible workforce, that is
    the #1 trusted partner in our market 
    for Manufacturing and Engineering Services” & Solutions

    We will continue to work hard to meet the needs of our customers—our company culture ensures it.

    Are you considering Flying Probe Test?

    When to add Flying Probe to your Electronic Assembly Bill of Material?  Important things to consider…

    When is the right time to use Flying Probe Test?

    While Flying Probe testing is not brand new it has evolved into providing more than Manufacturing Defect Analysis (MDA) testing.  Its usage and range of capabilities has significantly expanded in recent years.  OEMs competing for market share based on quality and price need to understand when it makes sense to add flying probe to your PCB assembly requirement.

    Talk with your CM to make sure you understand all they offer before you choose the best quality assurance solution for your product.  Traditional test methods of fixtured ICT, Functional test, and quality checkpoints using AOI and X-ray are readily available at most leading PCB assembly CMs – not all offer Flying Probe.  OEMs always benefit from working with a Contract Manufacturer that offers flying probe as part of their quality assurance program.  Frequently, OEM’s overlook the important benefits Flying Probe test can offer, as it’s not a service their CM currently offers.  It is all about having multiple quality assurance options at your disposal.

    Using Flying Probe Test on New Products Design

    Product design does determine the best test or group of tests for your assembly.  The benefit of designing for Flying probe test is that it offers high quality in-circuit test with design flexibility, especially with the increase in smaller more densely populated boards.  Cost and time saving benefits of using flying probe for prototyping should not be underestimated.  New design prototypes may require tweaks that are easily performed in Flying Probe programming vs. costly and time-consuming test fixture changes.

    When to migrate from fixtured ICT test to Flying Probe 

    Redesigns are a perfect opportunity to consider switching from fixtured ICT test to Flying Probe.  If you are adding or changing components for performance or obsolescence, migrating to flying probe test can free up board space by eliminating the need for test pads and traditional fixture spacing requirements.

    Once you migrate from fixtured ICT testing to flying probe, future design changes can be easily accommodated, eliminating the time and expense of new test fixtures.

    What can be accomplished with Flying Probe Testing

    Some of the many items tested:

          • • Resistance value
          • • Capacitance value
          • • Inductance
          • • Passive component measurements
          • • Opens
          • • Shorts
          • • Diode and Transistor orientation
          • • Component placement and orientation
          • • LED
          • • Simultaneous double-sided board testing
          • • Can handle larger boards than ICT
          • • Test boards that use both SMT and TH components

    Production Quantities for Flying Probe Testing

    Flying Probe typically lends itself to prototyping and small to mid-range runs.  This is primarily due to the speed of testing.  Fixtured ICT is faster for larger volume; however, many OEM’s needs have shifted to smaller, more frequent shipments of their assembled product.  These delivery schedules increase the value of Flying probe test as a viable option.

     Evaluating the Cost of using Flying Probe 

    Up-front investment for fixtured ICT can range from $10,000 to $20,000. Fixtures used for flying probe run between $250 to $500 with the Test pricing calculated by evaluating the # of nets and components.

    Finding the perfect test or combination of tests

    A CM with a design engineering team adds value by advising you on the best test and quality assurance assembly design before you request quotes.  Many CMs will provide this support during quoting at no additional charge.

     What is the preferred testing method at Altek??? 

    We don’t have just one!  Altek realizes the value of having different quality assurance options available.  Therefore, we offer a full array of options. We will assess your product design, volume, and end use before recommending the right test or set of tests. Contact our engineers to discuss how flying probe can benefit your program.

    “Contact an Engineer”

    Altek Announces New Director of Operations

    Tim Suydam assumes the role of Director of Operations, Altek poised to raise the bar of excellence!

    Tim Suydam

    We’re delighted to announce that Tim Suydam was appointed as Altek’s Director of Operations on August 25th 2020.

    Tim joined Altek as the Director of Continuous Improvement in June of 2018.  In that role Tim became involved in all facets of the business, from streamlining customer service functions to increasing productivity and reducing cost in manufacturing, to improving safety in our facility.  Recently, a key customer asked us to produce critical product that will be deployed world-wide.  Tim lead the creation of a continuous flow process that produces the highest quality product on a consistent basis. These contributions demonstrate that Tim’s leadership will benefit our customers and our organization.

    Prior to joining Altek, Tim held a variety of senior management positions including the VP of Manufacturing with a multi-plant/country span of responsibility at Dyno Nobel.  Tim holds a lifetime certification in Production and Inventory Management (CPIM), he holds a lifetime Purchasing Management Certification (C.P.M.), and is a long tenured member of the Shingo Prize Board of Examiners.

    Please join us in welcoming Tim to his new role at Altek.  Under Tim’s leadership, Altek is poised to raise the bar for excellence.

    Conducting a Satisfaction Survey during a Pandemic?

    The results provided valuable information for our PCBA and Electromechanical Assembly Company.

    You might say it was Crazy… but the results were so meaningful. Customer feedback is always important for a company to continuously improve, but how our team performs during less than optimum world conditions is a good test of our company, process controls and employees. We found that our on-time and quality acceptance rates have remained steady and our customer satisfaction excellent.

    “We value Altek very much as a supplier and partner and appreciate Altek’s willingness to work with us through any challenges that arise.”

    (For additional customer comments see the list at the bottom of this post.)


    As an employee here at Altek I see what we do here every day and it’s amazing. I work in marketing, so I won’t attempt to take credit for any of the great work done here. However, I do love talking about it. The amount of energy and planning that goes into meeting the customer’s needs is impressive. Our founder, Stephen Altschuler says,”The Customer is King”, and at Altek, they are.

    The engineering department may be participating in the design of a new product, providing DFM support or creating custom solutions for obsolete components.

    Our staff members in estimating, document control and purchasing make sure your product can be produced in the required time and at the right cost. They identify obsolete parts, BOM inconsistencies, last time buys and quantities that will have a positive impact on your unit cost.

    Altek’s Process and Production Engineers work together to create a “digital traveler” profile for your products in the manufacturing process. This ensures your product is built correctly the first time and every time thereafter. Our Director of Continuous Improvement works right alongside them to take waste out of the process and keep costs low.

    The manufacturing staff with extensive on hands training and eagle eyes oversee the product build. There are hands on every day overseeing each operation, performing inspection and testing of your product prior to shipment.

    And last but certainly not least is Customer Service. They are the team that keep our customers informed, and they monitor your product every step of the way. They make sure your customer experience is positive and the process runs smoothly.

    I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the management team at Altek for its guidance, instilling individual ownership and an openness for creative thinking.

    Altek is a finely tuned team that takes pride in their work and a job well done.

    Here is what our customers are saying about Altek…

    “We value Altek very much as a supplier and partner and appreciate Altek’s willingness to work with us through any challenges that arise.”

    “Continue your attention to detail. Altek is above the Bar!! Never a bad question… only the one not asked.”

    “Altek is very responsive to customer needs and provides excellent service.”

    “I appreciate everything your team does for us!! Thank you!!”

    “One of the easiest companies to deal with overall. Keep doing what you’re are doing, you make doing business a pleasure.”

    “Thanks for the great service, esp. in these difficult times.”

    “Thanks to Laura Brown, Christine Almeida and Michelle Cunha for all their help.”

    “Responses are excellent from support/customer service. Altek team does a great job. Appreciate all the support during these times, especially for high priority requirements when we need to support our customers and production needs.”

    “Altek has met or beat some expedited deliveries. There have been a few quality issues, but they have been addressed immediately. Mistakes will be made but it’s all about the fix/recovery. Altek team has been very responsive.”

    Great team of people work at Altek, always going above and beyond what is expected. Thank you so much :)”

    The Altek Team should be very proud of the job they do. I know that our customers appreciate it as much as we appreciate them!

    PCBA Supply Chain Check List

    OEM’s must focus on safety in production, maintaining schedules, and delivering essential military, industrial and medical equipment to market. How well are your contract manufacturers managing your risk exposure today?

    When talking about areas of concern in such a complex industry, it’s sometimes difficult to priorities them in order of importance – so let’s talk about it. Frequently we are talking about DFM, solder joint inspection, testing, parts obsolescence, solder voids, REACh compliance and the SCIP database just name a few. While these are all important topics, one new challenge has certainly risen to the top of the list.

    What’s today’s conversation like?
    Weak links in your supply chain may be more apparent today and overshadow the “normal” conversations with your contract manufacturers. Today, companies are facing new challenges that have changed the daily conversation. Manufacturers must focus on right sized work forces, CDC guidelines, component availability and critical lead times. We know that these unusual times have exposed weaknesses in some OEM’s supply chain that they didn’t know existed.

    How strong is your supply chain?
    OEM’s must focus on safety in production, maintaining schedules, and delivering essential military, industrial and medical equipment to market. How well are your contract manufacturers managing your risk exposure today?

    Are they:

    • Maintaining quality acceptance rates and On-Time delivery?
    • Ensuring the safety of their staff with PPE and rigorous cleaning protocols?
    • Working with a diverse group of part suppliers to ensure components availability?
    • Working on advance ordering to support long lead items?
    • Stocking parts on site to meet schedule needs?
    • Offering testing options on quick turn prototypes without the investment of costly fixtures?
    • Maintaining multiple work shifts to maintain production capacity?
    • Leveraging buying power to maintain fair market pricing?

    Many companies are experiencing issues with their supply chains and are re-evaluating their sources, seeking options that will provide quality product, on-time delivery at the lowest overall cost of ownership.
    OEM’s need to monitor how well their contract manufacturing partners are performing to their key metrics to make sure they can provide quality product on time, every time.

    If your Contract Manufacturer is checking all the boxes you are in good shape. If not, give us a call, we’d love to chat.

    Learn what makes our process unique allowing us to consistently deliver on our 98%  quality and on time delivery metric.

    A picture (or video) is worth a 1,000 words.    Take a look at our facility.  Learn what makes our process unique allowing us to consistently deliver on our 98%  quality and on time delivery metric.  Hear directly from our team why Altek Electronics is the right choice.

    On a special note:  Things do look somewhat different today.  Our filming was complete just before the COVID-19 outbreak.  While we are continuing to produce high quality product for our customers, rest assured that Altek is following all COVID-19 safety protocols to keep everyone’s health and safety our top priority.

    View our story!

    COVID-19 coronavirus

    Uncertainty surrounds the Electronics Industry. How will the coronavirus impact lead times of electronic components? Proper planning will mitigate delivery delays!


    Dear Valued Customer,

    Ref:  COVID-19 coronavirus

    The purpose of this letter is to inform you of the likely negative impact on lead times of electronic components due to the coronavirus, and to outline the steps Altek Electronics is taking to mitigate delivery delays to our customers.

    Lead Times of Electronic Components

    While there is uncertainty as to exactly how much of an impact the coronavirus will have on lead times of electronic components, a number of reliable industry sources warn there will be a delay on certain components of several weeks or months.  The information is in flux and we’re working with suppliers to stay current.  All known shortages have been communicated with customers, or mitigated by using alternate sources or approved alternate parts.    We will continue to monitor the situation and provide updates as new information becomes available.

    Mitigation of Delivery Delays:

      • Safety Stock: Altek will be building up a safety-stock of finished goods inventory for orders that we ship on a regular basis.  In return, we ask that customers not push out any scheduled delivery within a 4-week window.   It will take several weeks to establish our buffer stock.  We’re hopeful this will mitigate any incidence of absenteeism due to illness.
      • Supply Chain: Altek will work closely with our suppliers and manufacturers to confirm that components orders are shipping on-time, and we will notify customers if we learn of any delays.  If supplies of certain components become constrained, we may need to request approval to use alternate parts.
      • Planning: We encourage customers to review forecasts and consider placing orders at least 3-6 months in advance of the next scheduled order date.

    We value our business partnership with you and appreciate the trust you place in us to mitigate impacts to schedules during this coronavirus epidemic.


    Sabrina Beck, VP/Co-Owner

    The 2019 Results Are In!

    Altek conducts customer satisfaction surveys throughout the Year.    In addition to the continuous dialogue we have with our customers, we believe it’s important to “officially” check in on how we are doing.  2019 was a great year at Altek and it looks like our customers think so too!

    Here are our 2019 customer comments!

    Technical Support:

    • • Altek is a valued supplier for “Aerospace Customer”. Altek has always provided technical expertise while meeting all of the schedule and quality requirements.
    • • The staff at Altek is extremely accommodating. Altek has been helpful in all phases of our business–Design to production to service.
    • • Altek adapts quickly to our changes and always provided great feedback.
    • • It has been a pleasure working with Altek. Everyone we interact with is kind and professional. Sabrina communicated wonderfully with us during the quoting process. Brian’s (process engineer) meticulous review of our assembly gave us valuable feedback on our assembly process which translated into an improvement in product quality. Altek takes pride in not only about their process but ours. Thank you Altek…
    • • Working with Altek has been great. Sabrina’s been great in helping with everything and in a timely manner. Rob, the engineer, gave us some great tips before quoting during the design phase. When quoting, the board manufacturer and Altek communicated wonderfully with us. They gave us valuable information to help improve some things that could really have messed the boards up, and helped us try to come to a good place with a complicated board design. It’s always great when a manufacturer who cares about the end user’s design actually working before they manufacture it.

    Product Quality:

    • • Everyone in Connecticut agrees… Altek quality and value is unmatched!!!!!
    • • Our partnership with Altek has been a pleasant experience for a few decades.  We look forward to the next decade working together!
    • • Exceeds all expectations on time delivery and quality.
    • • Altek has been nothing but a pleasure to work with over the years. Their attention to detail is second to none!
    • • Excellent service and quality! Pleasure and success doing business for Electronic PCB, Panels and Chassis assemblies.

    Service and Delivery:

    • • The whole Altek staff is a pleasure to work with. Kudos to Christine for keeping our account in such good shape. She and Altek look out for our best interests.
    • • Not sure what to comment on, the customer service is the best.
    • • Michele Cunha does an excellent job at getting back to me with timely information.
    • • Altek is a best in class top notch supplier. Highly recommend. A pleasure to do business with. A+++ Christine Almeida is AMAZING!!!
    • • I appreciate everyone who supports our account.  I wish more suppliers were more like you.
    • • The Altek team is a pleasure to work with, fair, responsive, reliable, A+++
    • • Excellent customer service and delivery, Valued partner for our PCB services.

    Altek Electronics Hosts Soldering Class – November 12, 2019

    “Sharing knowledge is not about giving people something, or getting something from them. That is only valid for information sharing. Sharing knowledge occurs when people are genuinely interested in helping one another develop new capacities for action; it is about creating learning processes.” Peter Senge

    Altek University was founded by Altek Electronics to share knowledge and lend technical support to customers to enhance their capabilities. A medical device customer sent the first of two groups for Soldering training to work with “Trainer Dave” for an interactive session. Interested in learning more…

    Contact Sabrina Altschuler-Beck @